Monday, November 18, 2013

Poirot and Me by David Suchet - Book Review

Poirot and Me by David Suchet 2013 book review
This is a review of the Kindle version.

The final episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot, the critically acclaimed adaptation starring David Suchet as the Belgian detective aired recently.

To mark the historic occasion, David has released his take on the making of the series, his preparation for the iconic role and the uncertainties faced during the long running production.

Even though I have read only one or two of Agatha Christie's original stories, I confess to have enjoyed David Suchet's portrayal. In addition to being a good physical match for the legendary detective, Suchet also nails his quirks and accent to perfection.

Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin as Sherlock and Holmes and Dr John Watson in the Russian adaptation of The Hound of the BaskervillesDavid Suchet and Hugh Fraser as Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings in Agatha Christie's Poirot

David Suchet is my personal favorite actor to play Hercule Poirot. He captures the essence of the eccentric Belgian detective in a way, that reminds me of Vasily Livanov's performance as Sherlock Holmes: definitive and quintessential.
It all started in 1988, when David was approached for the role by producer Brian Eastman. An unsure David was further shaken, as Christie's daughter, the late Rosalind Hicks asked him to ensure that his portrayal should not make a laughing stock out of Poirot.

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in the Granada adaptationDavid Suchet as Agatha Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot

Determined to do justice to Agatha Christie's work as well as his own artistic integrity, David set out to read the original stories and prepared a list of the all the idiosyncrasies of the fastidious Poirot. This reminded me of the 77 page “Baker Street File” maintained by the late Jeremy Brett for the Granada adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

David gives instances of how he fought to keep his version of Poirot loyal to his creator, often against the wishes of the director.

David Suchet, Hugh Fraser and Pauline Moran as Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings and Miss Lemon in Agatha Christie's Poirot

Any reader familiar with the Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot stories would have easily noticed the similarities: Arthur Hastings (John Watson), Miss Felicity Lemon (Mrs Hudson) and Chief Inspector James Harold Japp (Inspector Lestrade). 

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David confirms the same by stating that Agatha Christie was a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories when she was growing up.

Agatha differentiated her creation from the world's greatest detective in terms of not only his physicality and personality traits, but also his technique of solving crimes.

David Suchet as the fussy and fastidious Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie Poirot

Sherlock Holmes is renowned for solving mysteries using his skills of observation and deduction. Hercule Poirot approaches his cases from a psychological perspective.

Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver with David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's PoirotDavid Suchet and Philip Jackson as Hercule Poirot and Inspector Japp in Agatha Christie's Poirot Christmas
Just as any adaptation of Sherlock Holmes benefits from the ensemble cast, the Poirot adaptation too has had one of the best ever assembled for a production.

Hugh Fraser, Pauline Moran and Philip Jackson are synonymous with their roles of Hastings, Lemon and Japp respectively.

The series got even better with the addition of Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver, a crime author. Agatha Christie created this character to voice her own frustrations with Hercule Poirot.

The chemistry between Poirot and Oliver is the highlight, whenever she makes an appearance on the show.

Bob, wire-haired terrier dog in Agatha Christie's Poirot Dumb Witness

As good as the aforementioned recurring cast members are, the guest stars have often stolen the show. My personal favorite (and to some extent, David's as well) is Snubby, a wire-haired terrier who played Bob, the title character in “Dumb Witness”.

Also of note is the fact that, two Dr Who actors have been part of the series: Christopher Eccleston (“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”, 1992) and the current Dr Who, Peter Capaldi (“Wasps' Nest”, 1991).

The series has also benefited from having some on of the finest screenwriters: Clive Exton, Anthony Horowitz and Mark Gatiss. Mark Gatiss would also star in one of the episodes (“Appointment with Death”, 2010).

Nothing in life is a walk in the park and it was not the case for this show either. Despite the cast and crew's best efforts, a few episodes did not turn out well as expected. Further, there were times when David himself was not sure if he would be able to complete his dream of filming all Poirot stories.

To quote Agatha's favorite writer, William Shakespeare himself: All's well that ends well.

David Suchet and Hugh Fraser as Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings in Agatha Christie's Poirot

Completing the entire Canon of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot stories is a crowning achievement. Very few actors have had such privilege and honor. To the best of my knowledge, Clive Merrison is the only actor to have played Sherlock Holmes in all 56 short stories and 4 novels on radio.

A superb lead actor and supporting cast, combined with lavish budgets (especially for the later seasons) and excellent scripts have resulted in a classic adaptation. A fitting tribute to the genius of the best selling novelist the world has seen.

Congratulations, David and wishing you the very best in your upcoming projects.

Recommended read for fans of David Suchet's Poirot and/or Agatha Christie's stories.

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Image Sources: Poirot and Me by David Suchet, Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes by David Stuart Davies, Flickr

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Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes


  1. I loved this Buddy! Didn't notice some of the things you mentioned - e.g. Mark Gatiss and Peter Capaldi. Thanks for this! You certainly have attention to detail!

    1. Thanks Reena for the compliment. Glad that you enjoyed the post :)


  2. Suchet was always my favorite Poirot. Thanks for pointing out the similarities between the Poirot and Holmes stories. Did you know that Conan Doyle assisted in the search for Agatha Christie when she disappeared for 11 days in 1926?

    1. You are welcome, Kathleen.

      I remember reading about ACD's involvement in Agatha's search. What an eventful life he led!


  3. You were a fan of the show weren't you?
    Great review, thanks.

    1. You are welcome, John.

      And yes, I enjoyed the show very much :)


    2. Love David Suchet! I once read how he was so keen to get into character he would rest between takes by leaning on a specially put-together upright board so his suit would not crease (by sitting down) and he would maintain the immaculate appearance of Poirot

    3. Thanks Amelia. You are spot on about Suchet's dedication to his role.


  4. Whose dog was Snubby ?
    As Bobby, Snubby was the star.

    1. Thanks for stopping by.

      Unfortunately, I am not sure as to whose family Snubby was part of. I dont remember Suchet mentioning that fact in the book.